History of the museum
From January 2005 Oslo Jewish Museum has rented large parts of the first floor of the old synagogue. It has been essential for the Museum to preserve traces of the old synagogue which was such a focus for pre-war Oslo’s Jews.
The synagogue building as a cultural memorial
When the JMO started the restoration during the winter of 2005, the building was run-down after decades of non-maintenance. We have, however, found beautiful decorations from the years the synagogue was in use, under several layers of paint.
With the help of amongst others The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) all the original décor has been uncovered where we have found remnants of it, but it is very possible that we can find hidden decorations on what is now the building’s second floor. This part of the old synagogue is at present not accessible. Comprehensive color samples of the exterior of the building are secured to make sure it would be possible to return it to the original look as soon as the Museum can afford it.
We have received good support from the antiquarian authorities in the work to recover the original. We have also spent a lot of time trying to track down some of the original furnishings. Amongst other items we have traced major parts of the Torah cabinet, sidewalls from the benches, chandeliers, and electric candelabra, together with parts of the railing from the women’s gallery, and religious texts which the rabbi and cantor used.
We still miss many items, though. Perhaps the most important issue is that we still have not found photographs of the exterior and interior of the synagogue in all its splendor, able to house several hundred people during the sabbath and other high holy days.